FAQs Below are some commonly asked questions regarding retina and vitreous diseases. If your question is not listed here, please do not hesitate to contact the Eye Institute at 304-598-4820. What are the retina and vitreous? The retina is the light-sensitive tissue inside the eye that allows us to see. This layer of tissue receives images and sends them to the brain through the optic nerve. The vitreous is the clear “gel” that fills the eye cavity, helping to hold the retinal membrane in place. There are many conditions that can affect the retina and vitreous, such as retinal detachments, macular holes, eye cancer, and more. What is retinal detachment? What is vitreous detachment? When the retina detaches, it separates itself from underlying tissue and without immediate treatment can lead to permanent vision loss. There are a few different types of retinal detachment, but the most common type is due to a retinal tear or hole. Vitreous detachment on the other hand is not sight-threatening. As we age, the vitreous can shrink and separate itself from the retina. This typically requires no further intervention, however, if you have flashes or peripheral visual changes (such as a shade or curtain blocking part of your vision) then see your eye care specialist on an urgent basis. What is diabetic retinopathy? Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the retina caused diabetes complications and occurs when there is damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Symptoms can start out as mild vision problems but can eventually lead to blindness. Diabetic patients are at risk for developing this condition and the longer a person has diabetes, the greater there chance of developing diabetic retinopathy. Prompt treatment is necessary to protection and it is crucial for all diabetic patients to schedule regular appointments with their eye care specialists. What is a macular hole? The macula is the small portion of the eye located in the center of the retina that is responsible for clear vision. A macular hole is a break in the macula and typically requires surgical repair. Macular holes can be caused when the vitreous shrinks, which can happen with age. What is macular degeneration? Macular degeneration, also known as age related macular degeneration (AMD), is the leading cause of irreversible blindness among people 50 years of age and older. AMD affects the central part of the retina and may cause blurring or loss of central vision. What are flashes and floaters? Flashes of flickering light that suddenly occur may indicate a retinal tear or detachment and warrant immediate care. If you encounter floaters, described as small spots, threads, or cobwebs, it could indicate an urgent problem such as vitreous hemorrhage or a retinal tear or detachment.